Willmott Dixon has won the lead role on a £13m contract to transform Darlington Civic Theatre into one of the North East’s most popular entertainment venues.

The deal takes the firm’s pipeline of revitalising heritage property into popular culture and arts attractions to over £100m. Appointed by Darlington Borough Council under Scape’s Major Works framework, Willmott Dixon will revamp the Grade II listed Darlington Civic Theatre, which has seen show-stopping acts perform there such as Tommy Cooper, Dame Margot Fonteyn and Mickey Rooney.

Grade II listed Darlington Civic Theatre to become the Darlington Hippodrome when the building revamp is completed next year

Willmott Dixon will now overhaul the venue, enlarging the seating capacity, improving backstage facilities, introducing a new restaurant area and grand entrance as well as transforming the neighbouring former fire station into a children’s theatre; sweeping away a century of add-ons and extensions.

At the same time it will transform an adjacent building into a new flagship children’s theatre venue, The Hullaballoon, as part of a £2.9m project led by Theatre Hullaballoo.

When it completes in Autumn 2017, the Civic Theatre will re-open as ‘Darlington Hippodrome’, bringing the venue back full circle to its roots and setting the scene for it to become a key destination for the region.

Willmott Dixon’s line up of heritage building projects includes two grade two building in London – the former Foreign and Commonwealth Institute building in Kensington where it is in the final stages of upgrading the space to create a new home for the Design Museum, and renovation of the east wing of the world famous Alexandra Palace.

Earlier this summer the firm also bagged the project to overhaul and expand Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery to create a new history centre as part of the city’s 400th anniversary commemorations for the Mayflower ship sailing to America.